GET Stock QuotesNews18 APP
News18 English
Powered by cricketnext logo
4-min read

Watch Out for These 5 Factors to Make Sense of Today's Gujarat Election Results

The election of 2017 has been significant since it was for the first time Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Gujarat model’ of growth came under such terse criticism in the PM’s home state.

Uday Singh Rana |

Updated:December 18, 2017, 10:25 AM IST
Watch Out for These 5 Factors to Make Sense of Today's Gujarat Election Results
File photos of PM Narendra Modi, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani and BJP chief Amit Shah. (PTI Photos)
New Delhi: Counting of votes is underway in Gujarat with thousand-plus candidates across 182 constituencies waiting to know what fate has for them in the sealed electronic voting machines (EVMs). Gujarat had voted in two rounds on December 9 and 14. News18 looks at the five top factors that will shape the outcome.

Patidar unity

Much of the fight against the ruling BJP has been led by Hardik and his Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) whose activists have protested, often violently, against the BJP. From flinging chairs at an Amit Shah event to clashing with BJP workers in Surat, Patidars have been the focus of this election. But their “unity” as a singular voting bloc is by no means guaranteed. While it is expected that Hardik’s agitation will lead to a dent in the BJP’s traditional support base — the Patidars — it is unclear just how big a dent this will be. Several key members of Hardik’s inner circle have broken away from the agitation to join the BJP.

The two main sub-castes of the Patidars are the Leuvas and the Kadvas. The Leuva Patels, given their greater number, are more influential electorally, particularly in the Saurashtra region. Perhaps, one of the most significant meetings Hardik had in recent times has been the one with Nareshbhai Patel, Chairman of the Shree Khodaldham Trust, in Rajkot.

The Khodaldham Trust is the apex spiritual and religious body of Leuva Patels – the numerically stronger sub-caste among Gujarat’s Patidars. Hardik belongs to the Kadva Patel community, which forms only about 30% of Patidars. While he enjoys popularity among youth from both subcastes, he may require the help of Khodaldham Trust to keep the larger community united.

Some, however, feel that the divide among Patidars will not be sub-caste but age. While Hardik Patel has support from younger Patidars, the unity of his movement will depend on whether he can lure older voters away from the BJP.

The OBC factor

OBCs make up 51 percent of Gujarat’s population. Kolis, an OBC community, alone make up around 20%, making them the largest caste group in Gujarat. Patidars make up only around 12%. In several of Gujarat’s 182 seats, the split in the Patidar vote would mean OBCs would take center stage.

In North Gujarat, where PAAS hopes to mount the toughest challenge to the BJP, OBCs may emerge as the strongest bloc. Despite activist Alpesh Thakor joining Congress, the BJP feels confident of support from North Gujarat’s Thakors, a powerful OBC community. Mehsana district has nearly 4 lakh Patidar voters and Thakors, who form the largest community among the OBCs in Mehsana, have 3.31 lakh voters. Combined with other OBCs, they could help the BJP sail through the election. This, perhaps, explains PAAS’s outreach to communities other than the Patels. BJP is confident of sailing through in the Prime Minister’s home district, as well as other areas of North Gujarat. But PAAS claims they will not let the ruling party off easily.

‘Gujarat Model’

The election of 2017 has been significant since it was for the first time Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Gujarat model’ of growth came under such terse criticism in the PM’s home state. What started as a Facebook post by 20-year-old Patidar youth Sagar Savaliya, with the words ‘Vikas Gando Thayo Chhe’ (Vikas has gone crazy), snowballed into a full-fledged social media war with viral memes attacking the BJP.

While the “development” narrative remained mostly missing from the campaign, the BJP did reach out to the state’s voters with a Roll-On/Roll-Off Ferry (RO-RO) between Bhavnagar and Bharuch and Narendra Modi’s Seaplane ride on the last day of campaigning. If BJP contains the damage to its development image, it may have a stronger chance in the elections.

BJP’s tribal outreach

The reason the BJP is feeling confident, despite the tide of Patidar resentment, is that the saffron party plans to expand its footprint in the tribal belt of South Gujarat. Scheduled Tribes such as Bhils, Vasavas and Gamits make up around 14% of Gujarat’s population. This is a section of society too large for any political party to ignore. Patidars only make up around 12%.

While Adivasis do not exactly vote as one single bloc, they have traditionally remained in the Congress camp. After all, the state’s only Adivasi Chief Minister, Amarsinh Chaudhari, was a Congressman. Meanwhile, the BJP has maintained a steady presence in the region but has always trailed the Grand Old Party. The state has a 182 constituencies in the Vidhan Sabha. In the 2007 Gujarat Assembly polls, there were 20 seats reserved for Scheduled Tribes. Of these, the Congress won 11 seats, the BJP won 8 and the remaining seat was captured by the JD (U).

After delimitation of constituencies in 2008, the number of seats reserved for Scheduled Tribes went up to 26. In the 2012 polls, BJP won 10 seats, Congress won 15 and the JD (U) retained its seat. Among tribals, BJP has always been the laggard, but the party is planning to change that.


Former Gujarat CM Shnkarsinh Vaghela, who understands North Gujarat better than most in the state, can hamper the Congress’s chances severely. North Gujarat is where the battle is said to be most hotly contested and with Vaghela’s spoilers in the fray, the BJP has reason to rejoice. And for Vaghela, a BJP victory is not a high price to pay.

Vaghela, who split from the Congress in July this year and formed the breakaway Jan Vikalp Morcha, is said to be resentful of his former party and plans to damage their chances in North and Central Gujarat. Six districts of North Gujarat – Mehsana, Patan, Banaskantha, Sabarkantha, Aravalli and Gandhinagar – are prestige areas for the BJP and strongholds of the Patidar movement. Spoilers for the Congress in North Gujarat, where the party expects to do well, will likely change the outcome of the election.

Also Watch

| Edited by: Ananya Chakraborty
Read full article
Next Story
Next Story

Live TV